Airbus reportedly will increase the production rate for A320 aircraft from five to seven units per month at the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Ala., by the beginning of 2021. The increase in operations will be accompanied by a $40-million capital investment to build an additional support hangar. Airbus reported this will raise its total investment at Mobile to more than $1 billion.
The Mobile plant started assembling narrow-body aircraft of the A320 series in 2015, completing the first unit in April 2016.
The 40% production-rate increase would help Airbus to address a significant backlog of orders for the A320 series jets, including for U.S. carriers like Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, and Spirit Airlines. Overall, Airbus currently lists more than 6,660 firm orders for narrow-body aircraft.
The A320 series (or A320ceo, for "current engine option") consists of three models of twin-engine jets for short- to medium-distance routes (5,740-6,940 km / 3,567-4,312 miles), and seating 107 to 236 passengers.
In addition to the A319, A320, and A321 jets produced at Mobile now, Airbus is expanding the operation to produce the A220 series of narrow-body jets. That assembly line is scheduled to be operational in April 2020.
The expansion will validate the federal government's decision to exempt components supplied to the Mobile plant from the list of Airbus products to be fixed with tariffs in the pending series of penalties that the U.S. has scheduled to implement following the World Trade Organization's ruling against the jet-builder in a long-standing dispute over E.U. subsidization of the manufacturer. Both the U.S. and E.U. have expressed an interest in negotiating a settlement of the tariffs issue, though no discussions have been scheduled.